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Rakin' In the Roubles

Ray Le Maistre

12:40 PM -- Looking for an increasingly profitable services market? Check out Russia.

It's home to two of the world's biggest emerging market operators, VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) and Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT), and to a host of other money-making carriers, if recent financials are anything to go by. (See Top Ten: Emerging Markets Carriers.)

Mobile operator VimpelCom just announced a 43.7 percent year-on-year rise in third-quarter revenues to nearly $2 billion, while its net income rose 70.7 percent, compared with a year earlier, to $458 million. (See Russia's VimpelCom Ups Revenues.)

Also this week, fixed-line player Comstar United Telesystems JSC (London: CMST), which provides broadband and voice services in Russia's major cities, reported third-quarter revenues up 28 percent year-on-year to $372 million and operating profit up 54 percent to $117.7 million. (See Comstar Reports Q3.)

And long-distance voice services operator Rostelecom just announced first-half revenues up 8.2 percent to 31.7 billion rubles ($1.3 billion), while its net income grew more than five-fold to R2.55 billion ($104 million). (See Rostelecom Reports 1H07.)

Mobile TeleSystems also recently announced third-quarter revenues of $2.2 billion, up 23 percent year-on-year, and net income up 35 percent at $655 million.

Add serial acquirer Golden Telecom Inc. into the mix -- third-quarter revenues up 53 percent, net income up 207 percent -- and you've got a whole lot of profitable and growing carriers. (See Golden Reports Q3.)

Time to open a bottle of Matryoshkina, methinks.

— Ray Le Maistre, Vodka Editor, Light Reading

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